Japan is always about kawaii, so everything from sports teams to food products has to have a cute mascot character to go with. Among them, popularity over Yuru-kyara has especially grown. Yuru-kyara, literally means “loose character,” refers to mascots that represent a town or a prefecture to promote and vitalize local communities. They are supposed to be cute and endearing, but sometimes they end up looking creepy. Here we selected some of the scariest-looking yuru-kyara that would make kids cry!
10) Tora Touchan (from Tamatsukuri, Osaka)
Tora Touchan is a tiger daddy who has a family consisting of a wife, a son, and a daughter. He is a hard-working salary man, which is great, but he just looks like he’s going to molest children! Is that the wandering eyes or a necktie stuck to a naked body or a mysterious black attachécase, I don’t know, but he just looks creepy! I mean, look at his face.
Yeah, not creepy at all.
9) 801-Chan (from Misono 801th Market Street of Kita-ku, Kyoto)
801-chan is supposedly inspired by kamo eggplant, a popular vegetable locally produced in Kyoto. However, the vegetable looks nothing like the satanic-looking character above. Actual eggplants look much cuter.
Because of its name 801 (pronounced “yaoi”), 801-chan inspired a popular manga title called Tonarino 801-chan, which is a comedic nonfiction story about a yaoi fangirl.
Yaoi-loving 801-chan is the true identity of a seemingly ordinary looking girl in Tonarino 801-chan.
8) Taramaru and Beniko (from Iwanai, Hokkaido)
I think half-fish, half-human creature is always a bad idea when trying to make something cute. They are twin cods Taramaru (boy on the left) and Beniko (girl on the right). Taramaru holds an asparagus stock because Iwanai was the first place in Japan to produce asparagus.
Taramaru serving fresh sushi to Beniko. This is so wrong!
7) Udon Nou (from Kagawa)
Udon Nou means “Udon (noodle) Brain.” As you can see, he’s not kidding about his name. The official story is that he used to be a normal human being once, but because he loved eating udon so much, one day when he woke up he found himself looking like this. Kagawa is well-known for its delicious udon noodle, but if it has such side-effect I’ll think about it before I eat.
On Udon Nou official blog, he once posted a realistic image of himself, which is even more nightmarish.
6) Marimokkori (from Hokkaido)
It’s hard to believe Marimokkori is so widely accepted in Japan today. It’s created from a mere pun on words, Marimo + Mokkori, where Marimo is a kind of moss ball species living in Hokkaido’s Akan Lake, and Mokkori means a boner. No, seriously, he’s a family-friendly mascot, even with a bulging crotch and those creepy eyes. Initially, people complained about how inappropriate he looks, but celebrities like Namie Amuro and figure skater Miki Ando were fans of Marimokkori and made him widely known. Everyone seems to be okay with Marimokkori nowadays.
5) Com-Chan (from Yokohama, Kanagawa)
While some prefectures have more than 40 yuru-kyara, Kanagawa only has a few of them, and one of them is Com-chan, a mascot based on the shape of a condom. Com-chan is not exactly creepy, it’s actually pretty cute if you don’t think too much about what’s inside the cape.
Com-chan’s mission is to educate local communities about prevention of AIDS and safe sex. Ganbatte Com-chan!
4) Sayuri Koshinaga and Zen Takakura (from Kanagawa Police)
Unlike other yuru-kyara, Sayuri and Zen did not go for “kawaii” direction at all. They are too realistic looking! Their mission is to promote safe driving and educate people on transportation rules. “All the kids who’ve seen me cried,” said Sayuri. Duh.
3) Manbe-kun (from Hokkaido)
Manbe-kun is a combination of a crab, scallop (on ears), and a Japanese iris (on his head). He is notorious for his sarcasm and sharp tongue. In his interview on Niconico Douga, he told that he doesn’t care about what people think about his talking manner and didn’t answer any of the questions about Hokkaido. Bad publicity is still publicity, that’s what his policy was. However, due to his inappropriate comments about World War II in 2011, his official Twitter account was forced to discontinue, and his official appearances have ceased since.
2) Funassy (from Funabashi, Chiba)
Funassy is a spirit of pears, the juicy fruit in which Chiba prefecture is a number one producer of. Funnasy’s seemingly cute, but his unlikely agility and odd behavior (he jumps really high while screaming) makes him a creepy mascot.
Also, his official snack product called “Funassy’s Secret Cookies” contained cookie wrappers showing terrifying truths about Funassy.
According to the wrappers, Funnasy’s favorite food is peaches, meat, pears, and dung beetles. Wait, aren’t you a spirit of pears? Also, it revealed that the red part on his chest, which was thought to be a bow tie, is actually a stain from blood, from murdering someone.
1) Melon Guma (from Yubari, Hokkaido)
Melon Guma is easily the scariest yuru-kyara ever created. Yubari produces one of the best-tasting cantaloups in the country, and brown bears (Higuma) traditionally reside in Hokkaido and was considered by Ainu aboriginals “divine gods of mountains.” Sure, but they didn’t have to create such a horrific monster out of them. Melon Bear would surely give elderly heart attacks and leave traumatic memories to children.
Even Funassy is hopeless against Melon Guma.
Creepy Melon Guma magnets are sold by its official site.
I’d like to see Smash Brothers type video game with all these yuru-kyara mascots some day! That would be fun, wouldn’t it?